Do warehouse workers wear electronic clothing? Maybe. MIT researchers have released a range of smart clothing that can track physical movement, and Fudan University researchers in China have unveiled the latest in electronic textiles that can produce visual displays.
All of this is happening as wearables continue to simplify supply chain operations and provide critical feedback in real time. In fact, 70% of warehouse facilities will adopt some form of wearable electronics by 2023, according to MHI research.
MIT Smart Apparel is made of non-woven, electrically conductive yarn. To make the clothes, researchers develop their design in a computer program, connect them to an industrial machine, and then connect them to electronic pressure sensors that can detect the wearer’s movements.
Widths are usually incompatible with textiles because they cannot withstand the warping that occurs when the fabrics are worn and washed. Fudan’s design solves this problem by weaving a luminous conductive fiber with cotton into a screen cloth.
This results in a texture that can provide, for example, a touch-sensitive fabric keyboard that can withstand more than 100 wash cycles. The researchers also say that textiles have an energy source and can harvest solar energy.
Fudan nonwovens applications include the use of sleeves to send text messages and follow GPS directions. Researchers say they can mass-produce display textiles at low cost and are already offering them to companies. Fodan expects it will start hitting the market in 2021 and no later than 2022.